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Is a high end CDP even worth it any more? - Page 3

post #31 of 196
So, in a way, people in the digital realm are ghost-hunting... looking for newer explanations for differences in sound than have been previously quantifiable? That would explain a lot of the esoteric theories and strange tweaks out there. Audiophiles

I was skimming a Stereophile article from April 2004 called New Media Metrics. It seems like a lot of this digital stuff is hard to explain to anyone who isn't an engineer. I find the "science" behind audiophilia fascinating, but in a more theoretical sense... I still haven't heard vast differences from the high-res formats. Maybe I'm listening to the wrong systems... but I do object to paying $20,000 for a decent source (like Reimyo, EMM Labs, dCS, etc.)... trickle-down technology may be supporting Redbook players after years of research investment.

It's a strange problem, but it's causing me to hesitate in buying a Redbook player. The universal and multi-format players all seem to have their own compromises or they're too expensive at this point.
post #32 of 196
Go with a high-quality one-box solution over a cheap source and expensive DAC. You won't have any synergy issues between transport and DAC. It's also a better value as you aren't paying for all the separate boxes, duplicated componentry inside, etc.
post #33 of 196
Quote:
Originally Posted by hciman77 View Post
If you read the paper from the thread I started on jitter audibiity the authors conclude very definitely that jitter really isnt a problem below 100s of ns, even the highly flawed Bejamin and Gannon paper couldnt find worst case jitter audible below 20ns - the stereophile test CD uses a jitter signal of 20ns to illustrate jitter, jitter of say 687ps will generate sidebands of -130db on digital outs, masking takes care of this, Arny Kruger's web site hosts jitter-free and jittered samples - I can guarantee that you would have extreme difficulty telling the difference (in blind testing) between the -80db jitter sample and the jitter-free sample, and this is a good 20db worse than any commercial CD playing device on the market (apart, perhaps from the Oppo, which has 4ns jitter) . To realistically regard jitter as a problem it is utterly crucial to measure it accurately, some of the jitter-is-a-problem camp dont do this, they talk about clocks and tweaks but never assess the before and after jitter. Nor do they attempt to assess the effect in controlled conditions, allowing normal human bias and expectations to bias the results. Also in at least one white paper the authors who were developing a new lower jitter clock were bemused to discover that several listeners preferred the higher jitter players.

Very convincing. I would be very interested in what system you have hciman?
post #34 of 196
Quote:
Originally Posted by markl View Post
Go with a high-quality one-box solution over a cheap source and expensive DAC. You won't have any synergy issues between transport and DAC. It's also a better value as you aren't paying for all the separate boxes, duplicated componentry inside, etc.
This is my suggestion too. When I was looking into a new source, I thought about a DAC running from my computer as I'm one of the folks who out of necessity actually, must have my gear near my computer. Convenient for multitasking I guess and this would permit the PC/DAC thing. That said one box solutions are still the only real way to fly for the high-res formats and for RBCDs, though completely psychological for me, there is something to placing the disk in the unit, looking through the liner notes etc, vs. just queuing up digital files on the comp.

I have a good amount of my music ripped and I do listen to these FLAC and ALAC files but I don't have any connection to them at all. As silly as this may come across, I like having a connection to my musical media as I find it provides a heightened connection to my music (tactile exposure, reading the liner notes or whatever it is). If I lost my CD's or LP's in a fire or flood I would be devastated, but for some reason, if I were to lose my digital files in an HD meltdown or again in a flood/fire (I'm a backup fanatic) that devastation would not be the same.

With the right DAC or with the right one-box solution, both would likely sound amazing, so in the end it is about convenience, flexibility, desire and personal preference. I can see the future being wireless from the computer to a DAC to a Preamp though where the sound is as good or better from running from a stand alone player IC's to the preamp. A nice touch screen beside a listening chair that is wireless to the same PC....the idea is very enticing. Maybe one day I'll have both
post #35 of 196
Quote:
Originally Posted by boggle View Post
Very convincing. I would be very interested in what system you have hciman?
My home system comprises a Philips DVP642 and a Marantz CC4300 as sources, a MisterX built M^3 headphone amp and a pair of Sennheiser HD580. My work system is a Creative Zen Xtra , a Vintage Nikko TRM210 amp and a pair of JBL E30s and sometimes a pair of AKG K240s or AKG K501s if I need to keep the volume down. I have a couple of old Tuners and a Graphic equalizer that I dont use much plus a 30G 5th Gen iPod and AKG K26P for portable use. My home speaker setup includes a Rotel RCC940 , a Rotel RA932 and a pair of Kef Coda 8s. I also have 2 PCDP players and 2 CD/MP3 players (iRiver Slimx and Riovolt) a pair of Senn Px100s and Koss PortaPros kicking around as well as a PA1, a PA2V1 , a PA2V2 and two Hong Kong MP amps and a pair of JPW mini monitors. Back in blighty I have a Rega Planar 3, a Marantz CD72 and a Rotel 920 (?) amp, some Sennheiser HD480 Mk II and a pair of JPW Mini monitors.

In the past I have owned an Onix XCD-88, a Marantz CD63, a Rotel RCD975, a Rotel RCD855, a Rotel RCD-02, a Yamaha CDC665, a NAD C542, a Denon DCD560, a Graham Slee Solo Mk II, a Headsave Classic, a Portable Pimeta, a home Pimeta, Sennheiser HD485s, Sennheiser HD535, BeyerDynamic DT990-pros , a Garrard SP25 Mk IV, a Transcriptors Saturn turntable, some anonymous Sony TT, an A&R (now Arcam) A60 amp, a Sansui receiver, a Rotel 211 amp, an Amstrad amp, a Marantz 2226 receiver and a record player which my dad got for me for 30,000 cigarette tokens back in 1974.

EDIT: Just won a Rotel RX303 on ebay

None of which makes jitter more or less audible in controlled tests
post #36 of 196
The only player that I thought was worth the high-end price was a Meridian, but now I probably think that was all placebo (even though I loved the 588 when I owned it more than any other CD player before or since). After reading the Audio Critic and studying up on the science behind CD players, I'm going to be a lot more demanding. Until I see a double-blind study showing a difference, I'm done with "high-end" CD players and amps. Of course, I've heard all the standard responses to this ("double-blind studies prove nothing, you need to listen for yourself"), but being a scientist at heart (and a lawyer in practice) I've finally come around to Peter Aczel's side.
post #37 of 196
I've done some auditioning and can honestly say that I have heard huge differences between some Redbook players... for what it's worth.
post #38 of 196
Quote:
Originally Posted by seacard View Post
The only player that I thought was worth the high-end price was a Meridian, but now I probably think that was all placebo (even though I loved the 588 when I owned it more than any other CD player before or since). After reading the Audio Critic and studying up on the science behind CD players, I'm going to be a lot more demanding. Until I see a double-blind study showing a difference, I'm done with "high-end" CD players and amps. Of course, I've heard all the standard responses to this ("double-blind studies prove nothing, you need to listen for yourself"), but being a scientist at heart (and a lawyer in practice) I've finally come around to Peter Aczel's side.
I thought it was BS too and didn't buy into the whole transport then I heard a DV50s and it was on a whole other level compared to any other source I have heard previous and since (Though I haven't spent enough time with the Emm labs se stack to really compare those two).
post #39 of 196
Quote:
Originally Posted by HiWire View Post
I've done some auditioning and can honestly say that I have heard huge differences between some Redbook players... for what it's worth.
Yeah, I have too. In fact, I would have just ignored my own comment only a few months ago.
post #40 of 196
Is it true that a lot spent on high end gear is probably more than a little bit for peace of mind.
post #41 of 196
One box CDPs aren't free of jitter either...the transport mechanism is creating jitter whether you hear it or not...
post #42 of 196
You guys are too focused on jitter. Speaking of computer based audio versus standalone CDP/DAC's, computers are terribly noisy. They have switching power supply's and the audio is compromised as it leaves the sound card. There are sound cards out there that try to reduce this, but it is not nearly as good nor as isolated as a standalone.

Besides, we can argue or speak of stats back and forth, but as Icarium said, listen for yourself. If you do not hear a difference between a properly setup high end CDP (such as an EMM CSDA SE) versus a computer based setup, then money saved is money earned and you will certainly still enjoy the music.

But anyone who has more than casually browsed this site, and has racked up some significant gear and knowledge is likely in the persuit of ever higher degrees of audio reproduction.

If you have sensitive hearing, if you can hear clearly above 16khz, and if you are experienced at listening carefully and with attention, and if your headphone is up to par, my guess is that you will clearly and significantly hear a difference between computer based and standalone CDP's. I also believe a significant difference can be heard between mid-fi / middle of the range CDP's, and the current state of the art.

Mind you, not all expensive CDP's are necessarily going to be good. Like most things in life, there are good deals, and there are bad deals. However, there are some known High End CDP's out there with a reputation for excellence. My belief and response has always been to try things out and hear it for myself...


...a lot of us like to talk, that's fine, we're on a forum. But just know that if you have not heard properly setup state of the art standlone's yourself (including attention to isolation, power cords and interconnects), and you are standing by your conviction that so and so player or computer based solution must be the best because it is bit perfect with no jitter, using FLAC and plenty of storage etc... etc... again it is my opinion that these people are just standing by unfounded rationalizations based on reactive thinking based purely on the defense that if it sounds logical, and it is based on some sort of science, it must be true and therefore take the place of actual real life experimentation and experience.

I for one will always opt to suspend my disbelief (and belief) and just spend the effort to try it out... if, after all, I really do have an interest in attaining the ultimate reproduction.

Neil
post #43 of 196
Quote:
Originally Posted by neilvg View Post
You guys are too focused on jitter. Speaking of computer based audio versus standalone CDP/DAC's, computers are terribly noisy. They have switching power supply's and the audio is compromised as it leaves the sound card. There are sound cards out there that try to reduce this, but it is not nearly as good nor as isolated as a standalone.

Besides, we can argue or speak of stats back and forth, but as Icarium said, listen for yourself. If you do not hear a difference between a properly setup high end CDP (such as an EMM CSDA SE) versus a computer based setup, then money saved is money earned and you will certainly still enjoy the music.
The specific post I was referencing specifically said that the CDP was feeding a separate DAC.

If there is so much noise in your computer system that it is effecting the output of the digital output of your sound card, audio quality is the least of your worries.

The sound card has absolutely nothing to do with how many errors in the bitstream associate with redbook jitter, I don't know why you are so focused on it.
post #44 of 196
Quote:
Originally Posted by neilvg View Post
I for one will always opt to suspend my disbelief (and belief) and just spend the effort to try it out... if, after all, I really do have an interest in attaining the ultimate reproduction.
I just have to comment on this, because this comes up over and over in threads dealing with digital sources.

We have a CDP feeding a DAC. The audio stream at this point is still a bitstream. "Trying it out" in this case does not mean listening to it -- it means measuring the jitter and if possible comparing the source and output bitstreams. Doing an additional conversion from the bitstream to an analogue waveform just introduces a confounding variable.
post #45 of 196
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chu View Post
I just have to comment on this, because this comes up over and over in threads dealing with digital sources.

We have a CDP feeding a DAC. The audio stream at this point is still a bitstream. "Trying it out" in this case does not mean listening to it -- it means measuring the jitter and if possible comparing the source and output bitstreams. Doing an additional conversion from the bitstream to an analogue waveform just introduces a confounding variable.
You are missing my point entirely. I am talking about 'trying it out' in the sense that you should use your ears when judging audio, not just measurements. Many people build what technically 'must' be the best system, but then anyone who listens to it versus a high end CDP/DAC find very audible differences.

I realize you are connecting to an external DAC. So what? There is a synergy between a CDP and DAC, that affects sound quality. And besides, at the very high end, I am not looking for something analytically perfect and clinical sounding. Audio is like an art, and there ARE (to me) useful colorations at this level that create a very pleasing euphony. After all, music is to be listened to, not constantly measured.

I know what you are striving for - a bit perfect, jitter immune, technically sound system by which audio can be reproduced. I am not
against this, or even speaking about this. The title of this thread is "Is a high end CDP even worth it any more?" So I am only referencing this, since I believe they are, and in this regard I am speaking about standalone high end CDP's with their associated DAC's s combinations that produce audio performance that to the human ear sounds very very good, and different than many of the "technically perfect" computer solutions AND mid-fi/middle of the range offerings. But my caveat in this was two part, 1) not all high end cdp's will sound better, so if you hear one and compare it auditorily to your system, you may like yours better. It depends on the specific high end setup since they almost all introduce colorations, some people may like them, others not. However, there are some very good CDP's out there that almost everyone who hears them likes. 2) You actually have to hear it, not just compare specs.

And thirdly, you need good ears. I am not saying I necessarily have the worlds greatest ears, but they are quite good. I can't tell you how many times I've walked into a high end audio shop and the dealer could not hear past 12-13Khz! This may be fine for analyzing the midrange material and below, but these ears will not be reliable past this.

As an aside, let me give you an example regarding the Grado GS1000. To me this headphone is almost unlistenable. Why? because it is so ridiculously sibilant above 16khz. Anyway, I don't want to get into a conversation regarding this phone, but the same applies to audio reproduction. Many systems just don't get it right way up top, and many people also do not hear fully up top either. So beyond measurements, I really believe in listening and judging and trusting my ears. If you have less sensitive ears, you will find more options that are pleasing.

Neil
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